Fresh From the Farm

More than 9,500 dairy farm families in the Midwest take pride in helping foster healthy people, healthy communities and a healthy planet. They are committed to providing real, fresh and naturally nutrient-rich foods and beverages for you and your family to enjoy.

American farmers provide your family with more high-quality food than ever before. In fact, one farmer now supplies food for more than 150 people in the U.S. and abroad compared with just 25.8 people in 1960 — and on less land every year. Production of food worldwide rose in the past half century, with the World Bank estimating that between 70 and 90 percent of the increase resulted from modern farming practices rather than more acres cultivated. Efficiency is one of the core elements of sustainability.

Sybesma Family: Embracing Challenges On and Off the Farm

Sybesma Family: Embracing Challenges On and Off the FarmWhile the recent devastating drought forced the Sybesma family of Platte, South Dakota, to reduce their herd size, it certainly did not affect their ability to produce quality milk.

Joel and Susan Sybesma own and operate Dutch Made Dairy, home to their four children, 170 milk cows and 400 acres. Taking good care of both their cows and land is part of the farm’s undertaking—and the Sybesma family exercises it daily. By providing their cows a clean and comfortable place to lie down with 24/7 access to feed and water, the family’s animals remain healthy and productive. The Sybesmas also supply the same genuine care for their land, practicing sustainable ways in farming to preserve their land for future generations.

“Working together as a family is a real blessing,” says Su. “While times may be hard on occasion, there’s always something for us to do and providing great milk also gives us extreme satisfaction at a job well done.”

It’s also very important for this South Dakota dairy family to take good care of their own health, which includes proper exercise and nutrition, and consuming three servings of dairy daily. However, half of the Sybesma family is lactose intolerant, presenting another challenge to this family.

Ironically, Joel, the dairy farmer, is the most lactose intolerant in the family; even so, he still consumes some dairy in his daily diet. “Jesse and Zach were both intolerant as babies; with Zach we switched to goat’s milk, which helped build a tolerance to milk in his childhood,” says Su. “While we never forced the boys to drink milk, they did use it on their cereal, and loved eating cheese in food.”

Su doesn’t worry about her children getting three servings of dairy in spite of the lactose challenge “When cheese and milk are being eaten along with other foods, it decreases the problems associated with lactose intolerance,” says Su.

As a mother, Su smiles wide, because between her children’s adequate portion sizes and ability to eat processed dairy foods like cheese and yogurt, they easily reach those recommended servings for dairy.

The Sybesma family serves as a reminder of how dairy farmers are great stewards despite challenges they face in and out of the barn.